Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Escaping Reader's Rut

When I was a Girl Scout, we'd sing a little tune that went

Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other's gold!

Years later, I find that not only are the words true, but they apply to more than real life human friends. They apply to books and other media as well.

Up until a couple of years ago, when I heard “graphic novel,” I pictured the only kind I'd ever seen before-- just a giant comic book, usually involving a man with a tiny waist and huge biceps wearing a cape. Having never been interested in comic books, and considering myself a lover of good literature, I was not interested in reading any graphic novels. Then somebody-- somebody whose taste in books I greatly respected-- handed me a copy of Blankets by Craig Thompson. Here was a graphic novel that didn't involve superheros at all, but told the story of a young man's path to discovering his own beliefs, and of his first love. I gave it a chance, and lo and behold, my love of good literature came to include graphic novels. After Blankets, I found Maus by Art Spiegelman, and more and more titles seemed to come to me the more graphic novels I read. I even found a couple involving superheros that I came to love.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a comfort zone, even in a rut, as far as our consumption of media goes, be it books, movies, or music. It can be compared to sitting in one spot on the couch for too long-- it started out comfy, but after a while it just starts to make you feel stiff and achy and lazy. Sometimes it even takes a conscious effort to get out of it. You might even feel reluctant to get up at all. But the good part is that when it comes to getting out a media rut, you don't have to go it alone. Here at the library, there are always folks at the desk happy to give their recommendations and steer you toward something new and exciting. Stepping outside your comfort zone could lead you to a new favorite.


Claire said...

People talk about ruts like they're a bad thing, and I have to say, I just don't see it.

Lynne said...

I also remember being unimpressed with graphic novels before I gave them a chance. Then I read Stitches by David Small -- a short, a powerful memoir. Now I'm trying Manga, starting with Library Wars. It's a little hard to get used to reading backwards, but worth the effort.

Linda K. said...

I'm with Claire. I love my mystery rut. However, I've also enjoyed many a stray into unfamiliar territory. I've had the best luck jumping into Young Adult books. The Hunger Games were a big surprise and I became a fan of browsing the High School shelves over the years.

Roberta said...

You're right about the rut - very comfy but it gets dull after a while. Reading something entirely different refreshes your brain and your reading muscles. Like going to a concert or a play instead of listening to CDs or watching TV.

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